After years of planning, digging and excavation, Flinders Petrie broke into King Amenemhat III’s burial chamber in 1888 – to discover the tomb had been ransacked. A modern-day team of specialists combines their expertise to solve this 3,700-year-old mystery. This documentary merges three eras - ancient, Victorian and contemporary to tell a riveting crime story that will enhance students’ appreciation of Egypt’s ancient civilisation.
TEACHER BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Amenemhat III, a fabulously wealthy Egyptian King, was one of the last pharaohs ever to be buried in a pyramid. In recognition of the fact that many wealthy tombs risked robbery, the entrance to Amenemhat III’s tomb was meticulously designed, and protected by state-of-the-art security - including fierce guards, sand traps and dead ends.
After a year of digging in 1888, Flinders Petrie, adventurer and celebrated Victorian-era Egyptologist, finally broke into the burial chamber. He was utterly amazed and bitterly disappointed to find that the tomb had already been stripped of every artefact and treasure. Every item of any value had been stolen. And, not a single trace of the robbers themselves had been left behind to help Petrie figure out how and when the robbery had occurred.
Now, for the first time ever, four cross-disciplinary 21st Century specialists are brought together to re-open the case. Each expert’s particular individual skills are set to solve a different aspect of the mystery. The team combine to analyse the heist in forensic detail.
As the theft occurred in the ancient world, this documentary follows the team’s investigation as each step is brought to life by the movements of the original gang. Thus, three historical periods – Ancient Egypt, Victorian discovery and modern times – are interwoven to tell a remarkable tale.
The experts also try to solve the intriguing mystery of how, at a time when communities were small and gossip was rife, the robbers could have kept the heist a secret. And, extraordinarily, how the robbers escaped and supposedly cashed in the treasures without being caught.
“Awareness of history is an essential characteristic of any society; historical knowledge is fundamental to understanding ourselves and others, and historical understanding is as foundational and challenging as other disciplines.”
Shape of the Australian Curriculum: History, 2.2, 2009
“Historical inquiry involves the retrieval, comprehension and interpretation of sources, and judgment, guided by principles that are intrinsic to the discipline. It yields knowledge that is based on the available evidence, but remains open to further debate and future reinterpretation.”
Shape of the Australian Curriculum: History, 2.6, 2009
In undertaking these tasks, students will:
• Use historical terms, chronology and sequence of events relating to Ancient Egypt
• Conclude why pyramid building came to an end
• Provide historical explanations using a range of different sources
• Develop appropriate techniques of communication and organisation.
Shape of the Australian Curriculum: History, 5.4.3, 2009
In undertaking these tasks, students will:
• Demonstrate knowledge and understanding about Amenemhat III and his Kingdom in the context of Ancient Egypt
• Identify historical factors that contributed to change in Ancient Egypt
• Gain awareness of the diversity and complexity of Ancient Egypt
• Locate, select and organise relevant information from a variety of sources
• Use historical terms and concepts appropriately
• Communicate knowledge and understanding of historical features and issues of Ancient Egypt using appropriate oral and written forms
• Develop values and attitudes of about the influence of Ancient Egypt on the present
Ancient History Stage 6 Syllabus, 8.1, NSW Board of Studies, 2009
STUDENT LEARNING TASKS
Who was King Amenemhat III? Which of Ancient Egypt’s Kingdoms and Dynasties did he belong to, and what were the dates of his reign?
King Amenemhat III’s pyramid was one of the last to be built. Draw a chart that shows the timeline of the pyramids. On your timeline, sketch the design of three different types of pyramid to show how they changed over time.
Imagine you are one of the people involved in designing Amenemhat III ‘s pyramid and tomb. What are three safeguards or precautions you take to make it robber-proof? In your answer, include a plan of the tomb that shows your safeguards.
Design the mission to rob King Amenemhat III’s tomb. Plan your team - how many people will you need? What will their roles be? What skills will they each need for their roles (eg strength). Now, make a list of the equipment and tools each will need . to conduct the heist.
This documentary introduces us to four different professionals: Deanne Bell, a mechanical engineer, Pierre Tallet, an Egyptologist, Dr Kasia Szpakowska, an Egyptologist who specialises in the lives of Ancient Egyptians, and Chris Mathers, a former undercover detective. Choose one of the experts and describe the work they are specialised to do. Now explain how your chosen expert’s skills contributed to solving the mystery of the plundered tomb.
Amenemhat III was the last of the Middle Kingdom’s 12th Dynasty’s powerful pharaohs. What do we know about him as a man and as a ruler? How did his rule differ from his predecessors and followers? Write a 250-word essay about the man, his rule and the attributes that made him distinctive.
Create a table of historical events. In chronological order, explain how Ancient Egypt’s Middle Kingdom first created, and then destroyed.
The documentary showcases aspects of lifestyle during the Amenemhat III’s reign. Describe five similarities and five differences between their ancient way of life and ours. Include: an aspect of daily life, religious ritual, architecture, clothing and festival.
Ancient Egyptians left a legacy of artefacts that remain to this day. Name six examples of these artefacts and explain how have they withstood the passing of time.
In this documentary, four professionals from different areas work together to conduct an historical inquiry. Outline three advantages and three disadvantages of working in a team with other expert professionals to undercover and solve an historical mystery.